Santa Claus is everywhere in Philadelphia and its suburbs: A list that he’s checking twice

If Santa Claus is more of a myth than a reality, or something of a canard in which t trick your children into being good – and how good can they even really be with all that teen gunplay afoot – then why are there so many Kris Kringles, St. Nicks and even a few horned Advent season Krampuses afoot, I ask you?

Maybe department store Santas are at a premium in 2022 as department stores in general are fading. But if we are to believe Philadelphia fiscal reports, in person shopping and out of pocket spending is on an upswing during the December holiday season. So, bring on all the Clauses, their dangling participles (Stupid linguistic joke. Apologies), their reindeer and all the horrible children and even worse parents who love them.

Macy’s Center City Holiday Celebration with Santa, Dickens Village, Organ playing and Light Show

I will not bore you with sentimental talk of Christmas’ yore – when it was newscaster and NFL football voiceover god John Facenda doing the spoken word conversation of the department store by-the-eagle holiday light show at John Wanamaker’s and not Julie Andrews. Or how you could just walk up the creaky old nostalgic Dickens Village rather than having to make an appointment as you do now. Bah. That said, I am just happy that Macy’s Center City at 1300 Market Street have kept all three traditions – Santa Clause lap sitting, the elves, the whole she-bang – but, as stated: you have to make an appointment with him too, at the tail end of the Dickens Village walk-about experience. Harrumph. Wait by the 100,000 lights and listen to the holy grand organ’s grinding out seasonal music favorites.

Santa at Heritage Philly in Northern Liberties

Does Santa Claus like live jazz? Damn right he does. While you knock down a Knob Hill bourbon or two or sip a Lavender Sidecar, Santa will wow your children at Heritage at 914 North 2nd Street, on December 10 and December 17 at 11am-2pm. If he starts grooving to the music, grab a photo.

Santa at Urban Jungle on East Passyunk Avenue

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First off, Urban Jungle at 1526 E Passyunk is a lovely place just to hang for the holidays as its on-sale displays of ferns, pines, plants, and one-of-a-kid decorations makes a homey treat all on its own. Add a Santa with whom you can photograph for free – BYOC, bring your own camera – on December 8 from 5 – 7 pm. Do that. And, “furry four-legged companions are encouraged.”

Brunch with Santa at The Olde Bar

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Santa’s toniest friend, Jose Garces, will hang out with the Clauses on Sunday, December 19, with 10:00am and Noon seatings at 125 Walnut St in Philadelphia, for photo sessions with the big man himself.  Do they mean Santa or Garces? While kids will have an opportunity to chat with Santa, parents can snap their Instagram photos, dine out on shrimp & Grits and Steak & Eggs and get bragging rights to having chilled with Garces.

Tree Lighting and Santa Skate/Flight on Ice at Energy Transfer Veterans Memorial Rink

The Energy Transfer Veterans Memorial Rink at 4901 West Chester Pike in Newtown Square, PA will deal with Santa in a very special way on December 14, 2022 – 6-8pm. The Flight on Ice space has a beer garden, ice skating sessions, a fire lounge area, heated party tents, and DJs to go with its food and beverage offerings. But, for the Flight on Ice official tree lighting and ribbon cutting, adults and children can ice skate with Santa. It’s an unfair advantage as he is on ice 350 days of the year before hitting Philly, so polish your blades and practice up.

Santa Claus and Phil the Reindeer at Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s largest holiday attraction being mere yards from City Hall at Love Park, (1600 JFK Blvd) sounds pretty provocative as it is. You never know if DA Krasner or Mayor Kenney need some holiday cheering. Right up until December 24 this year – as Christmas Village is the LAST place to see Santa before he heads out on his sleigh – Santa Harry will hang out in his workshop in the center ring of the Village right up until Christmas Eve’s last seconds. While Santa is offering photo packages through Russ Brown Photography (visits are free with photo packages pay-as-you-go), you can also get your holiday selfie taken with Phil The Reindeer at Christmas Village, a real life fawn who makes appearances every weekend walking around Christmas Village, greeting visitors and shoppers and stealing just a smidgen of Santa’s thunder this season.

Stories with Santa and Breakfast with Santa at Vintner Wonderland in Egg Harbor, NJ

This is too easy to have fun with: a Santa hanging out with the kids – reading Christmas classics, sharing breakfast treats – while the parents get drunk on wine at the bar. What could you expect from the Vintner Wonderland at Renault Winery and Resort (72 North Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City, NJ), December 8th, 15th and 22nd, at 3:00pm, 4:30pm and 6:00pm. Kids and parents can get photos with Santa and eat fresh baked cookies from Cafe La Fleur in the winery’s Expedition Room. But seriously? Wine and Santa. Big yes.

Drink with the Grinch (and Drag Queen Brittany Lynn) at Craft Hall/Santa Claus Brunch at Craft Hall

The Philadelphia waterfront’s newest attraction, Craft Hall, at 901 N Delaware Avenue, will host a 21+ event with pet owners and their dogs in partnership with Saved Me Rescue, December 9 from 7-10 pm. Yes, it is a PAW-ty, and yes you can get you and your dogs’ photos snapped with the Grinch – more the Boris Karloff-y one, and not the goofy Jim Carrey one – with raffles on baskets donated from local businesses, specialty cocktails with proceeds going towards Saved Me Rescue. The goal is to raise money for the shelter along with promoting their seasonal campaign drives, the Doggie Drive and Clothing Drive. As I prefer dogs to people, this is a must. And cocktails. And drag queens reading stories with the Grinch, December 18, 12-2 pm. Plus, Craft Hall will host a bottomless Santa Claus Brunch on December 11 and 18, from 11:00am to 3:00pm – more food, more booze, more Claus. Unending Claus. Unending Brittany Lynn.

Photos with Krampus at North Bowl at the Northern Liberties Holiday Pop-up Market

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Can I just say that getting your photo taken with Krampus, the vaguely European, darkly horned anthropomorphic figure known for Advent season Central and Eastern Alpine folklore is a mess? A really great mess as he’s meant to scare rotten children who have been bad this year? On December 10, from 11:00am to 4:00pm, you can take your kids (or yourself) to North Bowl, 909 N. 2nd Street, get your photo taken for free with the menacing Krampus, bowl a round, then shop at 35 craft and handmade goods vendors on the mezzanine of North Bowl for Christmas swag. Oh yeah, they have a letter to Santa area, but what about mean Tweets for Krampus? Just a thought.

Photos with Santa at Jerry’s Bar and Holiday Market

Jerry’s Bar at 129 West Laurel Street is hosting its Annual Holiday Market on December 10 from 11 to 4pm, and will welcome a photogenic Santa for adults and children to snap photos with. Plus, Jerry’s does a mean brunch. Win-win.

Santa Brunch at Figo Ristorante/ Countdown to Noon with Cinderella at Figo Ristorante

While Glu and A Dash of Magic Events invite you to an enchanting end of the year event with Cinderella for Figo’s New Year’s Eve brunch celebration on December 31 at 1033 N. 2nd Street, Santa gets in on the brunch deal sooner – December 18, 2022, 10:00am to 1:00pm – running between the Igloos and Figo’s indoor dining.  There will also be a cookie decorating station, seasonal sips for the kids and adults, and a MYO Hot Cocoa Station.

Stella of New Hope’s Santa with the Dogs

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Stella of New Hope is inviting four-legged companions and their humans to its al fresco second-floor patio for free holiday photos with Santa Claus and the missus on December 11. From 2 to 4 pm, the modern American restaurant named after owner Sherri and Kevin Daugherty’s beloved rescue pit bull, will host pet owners on its second-floor patio to capture this year’s holiday photo featuring their furry best friends. With a suggested $10 donation to ACCT Philly, a local animal rescue working to find lovable pets a fur-ever home, dog moms and dads can bring their own cameras and phones and snap a few photos of their four-legged friends. Do it, dog moms and dads. Remember, it’s cooler than having kids. Plus It’s New Hope. Plus, Stella rocks.

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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